Would you like to play a lead role in the future of digital learning in Wales?

Posted by Glyn Jones, Chief Digital Officer, Welsh Government

Darllenwch y dudalen hon yn Cymraeg

Another day, another one of the most exciting digital jobs in Wales becomes available.

This time, it’s the Deputy Director for Digital Learning job, a post that has been pivotal to the amazing work we’ve done on digital learning in Wales – which has been so important over the past 18 months. But instead of me telling you how great a job it is, I thought I’d ask the previous postholder, Chris Owen, to write the guest blog below telling you all about it.

You can apply for the Deputy Director, Digital Learning job until October 19 2021.

Deputy Director Digital Learning

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A view from the previous incumbent

If leading a cutting edge, multi-disciplined digital team, who are providing an internationally recognised EdTech programme to transform the digital education landscape across Wales sparks your ambition – you need take a close look at this role!

Since 2012, the Welsh Government has been building a collection of nationally provided, centrally funded digital infrastructure, tools and services to support the digital transformation of education practices across Wales.

All built around a national digital identity (one of the largest single Microsoft tenancies in the world), education stakeholders including every school learner and teacher across the country is provided with their ‘Single Sign-On’ Hwb login which is the key to access enterprise level education services (including Google for Education, Microsoft Office 365 and Adobe).

One of the big selling points is that schools, along with wider education stakeholders, can access these tools and services safe in the knowledge that the expert Hwb Digital Resilience team has reviewed their implementation from a safeguarding and compliance perspective, ensuring the users are protected from potential risks and harms.

Through the infrastructure workstreams, over £100 million has been invested into in-school infrastructure such as networks, devices and audio visual, to ensure schools are set up for success and able to consistently access these online services. This isn’t just your typical pump prime initiative though, as the teams have worked in partnership with all 22 local authorities to ensure the investment can be sustained into the future – no easy task in the current financial climate.

The team have also achieved a number of international firsts – the first Country in the World to nationally licence all schools with Microsoft M365 along with being the first to nationally deploy the Adobe Spark creativity suite. There’s also been independent commendation on their approach to supporting digitally excluded learners through the pandemic.

During my time in post, I spent a lot of time talking to our strategic partners such as Google, Microsoft and Adobe, exploring opportunities to further add to our already extensive offering. These conversations were always guided by the feedback from our fantastic community of users who continuously keep the team on their toes. I firmly believe that this open dialogue between stakeholders, the delivery teams and our suppliers has underpinned the programme’s success.

The project has been described as ‘the perfect storm’. Having full Government support with a clear Ministerial mandate, bringing together an extremely talented multi-disciplined delivery team, placing stakeholders firmly at the centre of service design and working strategically with delivery partners.

I can honestly say that the nine years I spent leading the Hwb programme were some of the most challenging in my career to date, but also the most rewarding. National delivery has lots of moving parts, but when they align the impact is truly phenomenal. 

I’ve now moved onto the next chapter in my career as the Chief Digital Officer for Neath Port Talbot Council. This means that I’ve still got a vested interested in the Hwb programme, but now from the other side of the fence as a service user. 

I’m really looking forward to seeing what direction the next phase of the Hwb programme brings for education in Wales, and am happy to share any insight I can with the next Deputy Director for Digital Learning.

Chris Owen

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